The Ministry of Employment, Social Cohesion and Housing, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the National Urban Regeneration Agency (ANRU) and Dexia Crédit Local (a subsidiary of the Dexia Group) have joined forces to support the urban and social regeneration schemes of local authorities in sensitive urban areas throughout France.

The partners have agreed on a EUR 500 million National Urban and Social Regeneration Programme. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Paris on 22 May by Mr Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister for Employment, Social Cohesion and Housing, Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the EIB, Mr Gérard Bayol, Chairman of DCL's Board, and Mr Philippe Van de Maele, Managing Director of ANRU.

Set in the framework of France's towns and housing policy, the purpose of the programme is to finance investment by regional and local authorities (regions, departments, communes and groupings of these) that have signed agreements with ANRU on the implementation of urban and social regeneration schemes (scheduled for completion by 2008) in some of France's 200 sensitive urban areas.

This investment will meet the specific needs of the districts targeted in terms of urban development and the provision of public amenities to accompany the construction of housing financed by social lenders.

Local/regional authorities and ANRU have concluded 127 agreements on the schemes identified, which are located throughout France: a third in the Ile-de-France region and a quarter in the Rhône-Alpes, Nord-Pas de Calais, Haute Normandie and Centre regions. A number of projects are also eligible for Community or national support measures under the European Union's regional development heading.

The programme is therefore fully in line with EU economic and social cohesion, urban environment and sustainable development policies. Such European objectives underlie the EIB's lending priorities and warrant its involvement.

The National Urban and Social Regeneration Programme is underpinned by the operational capacities of ANRU - a public agency created in 2003 under the town and urban regeneration planning law. It is also supported by the financial intermediation of Dexia Crédit Local, which, on the basis of the EIB finance, is able to offer project promoters loans tailored to their specific needs at favourable interest rates and with long maturities.

At the signing ceremony, the minister and partners emphasised the strength of their commitment to supporting long-term investment in towns, housing and the urban environment.

Background information on the EIB:

Financing the quality of life in the urban environment is one of the EIB's priorities. Over the past five years the Bank has channelled nearly EUR 28 billion into this objective across the European Union, of which around EUR 13 billion specifically for urban renewal and regeneration including housing and some EUR 15 billion for urban transport projects. It has provided massive support for this sector in France, financing numerous segregated urban public transport projects (including in Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nancy, Nantes, Orléans, Rennes, St Etienne, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Valenciennes) to the tune of more than EUR 2.5 billion over five years.

Background information on DEXIA CREDIT LOCAL: Dexia Crédit Local is the leading banker to local authorities in France. It also finances other local development players, including social housing organisations. It currently provides loans totalling over EUR 10 billion a year in France and its outstandings with the French local authority sector amount to more than EUR 60 billion. For further information on Dexia Crédit Local go to, Our Group page.